Back Pain in Pregnancy

Back Pain in Pregnancy- Is it common?

Back pain during pregnancy is common. Back pain may be caused by several factors that are related to changes during your pregnancy.

Follow these instructions at home:

Managing pain, stiffness, and swelling

  • If directed, apply ice for sudden (acute) back pain.
    • Put ice in a plastic bag.
    • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.
    • Leave the ice on for 20 minutes, 2–3 times per day.
  • If directed, apply heat to the affected area before you exercise:
    • Place a towel between your skin and the heat pack or heating pad.
    • Leave the heat on for 20–30 minutes.
    • Remove the heat if your skin turns bright red. This is especially important if you are unable to feel pain, heat, or cold. You may have a greater risk of getting burned.


  • Exercise as told by your health care provider. Exercising is the best way to prevent or manage back pain.
  • Listen to your body when lifting. If lifting hurts, ask for help or bend your knees. This uses your leg muscles instead of your back muscles.
  • Squat down when picking up something from the floor. Do notbend over.
  • Only use bed rest as told by your health care provider. Bed rest should only be used for the most severe episodes of back pain.

Standing, Sitting, and Lying Down

  • Do notstand in one place for long periods of time.
  • Use good posture when sitting. Make sure your head rests over your shoulders and is not hanging forward. Use a pillow on your lower back if necessary.
  • Try sleeping on your side, preferably the left side, with a pillow or two between your legs. If you are sore after a night’s rest, your bed may be too soft. A firm mattress may provide more support for your back during pregnancy.

General instructions

  • Do notwear high heels.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Try to gain weight within your health care provider’s recommendations.
  • Use a maternity girdle, elastic sling, or back brace as told by your health care provider.
  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important. This includes any visits with any specialists, such as a physical therapist.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your back pain interferes with your daily activities.
  • You have increasing pain in other parts of your body.

Get help right away if:

  • You develop numbness, tingling, weakness, or problems with the use of your arms or legs.
  • You develop severe back pain that is not controlled with medicine.
  • You have a sudden change in bowel or bladder control.
  • You develop shortness of breath, dizziness, or you faint.
  • You develop nausea, vomiting, or sweating.
  • You have back pain that is a rhythmic, cramping pain similar to labor pains. Labor pain is usually 1–2 minutes apart, lasts for about 1 minute, and involves a bearing down feeling or pressure in your pelvis.
  • You have back pain and your water breaks or you have vaginal bleeding.
  • You have back pain or numbness that travels down your leg.
  • Your back pain developed after you fell.
  • You develop pain on one side of your back.
  • You see blood in your urine.
  • You develop skin blisters in the area of your back pain.

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